Guide For Exterminating Angel

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lennygoran
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Guide For Exterminating Angel

Post by lennygoran » Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:13 pm

We'll be seeing this in Nov although I'm not sure why-I wonder how much this guide will help? Regards, Len :lol:

Your Guide to the Met Opera’s ‘Exterminating Angel’

By ZACHARY WOOLFE OCT. 20, 2017


Thomas Adès’s “The Exterminating Angel,” based on the classic, darkly comic Luis Buñuel film, comes to the Metropolitan Opera on Thursday, Oct. 26, and runs through Nov. 21. Here’s what you need to know about it.

WHY IT MATTERS A new opera from Mr. Adès, more than a decade after “The Tempest” (2004), is an event. At 46, he is one of the most impressive composers of his generation, creating works that are sumptuously savage but not heavy, direct but never simple. His style is eclectic, just right for our postmodern era: References to music history are nestled like Easter eggs in a spiky lawn of dissonant restlessness, a pervasive anxiety that reflects a time defined by polarization and emergency.

“He is, first and foremost, a virtuoso of extremes,” Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker after the premiere of “The Exterminating Angel” at the Salzburg Festival last year. Works like his violin concerto, “Concentric Paths” (2005); “Tevot” (2007); and “Totentanz” (2013) are like ominous organisms, expanding from wary intimacy — as in the gamelan-like sweetness that’s the resting state of “Polaris” (2010) — to crushing grandeur.

And he is the rare composer who understands how to create drama in music, even in wholly instrumental pieces. There’s always a sense of narrative, and it’s always riveting.

As the Met slowly broadens its commitment to new opera, it seems to be going for depth more than breadth, presenting multiple operas by composers it favors, like John Adams, Philip Glass, Nico Muhly and now Mr. Adès, who was born in London in 1971. Having performed “The Tempest,” his teeming adaptation of Shakespeare, in 2012, the company signed on to co-produce “The Exterminating Angel.”

WHAT IT’S ABOUT A wealthy couple hosts a dinner party. But when the meal is over, even though there’s no evident physical barrier, everyone finds it mysteriously impossible to leave the room. Days go by; the guests become hungry, dirty and hysterical, eventually turning on one another. (Think “Lord of the Bourgeois Flies.”)

WHAT IT’S REALLY ABOUT Buñuel didn’t like to be too specific about his symbolism, but the film, first released in 1962, has often been viewed as a critique of the complacent, complicit Spanish elite during the fascist Franco years.

In his review of the premiere in The New York Times last year, Anthony Tommasini wrote: “In his opera, Mr. Adès seizes the story and makes it his own, delving into its ‘underground river of meaning,’ as he says in an interview in the program. His powerful score reveals the harrowing absurdity of the situation.”

Our time is, like the Franco era, one in which many have vividly perceived a stagnant elite; the dinner party of “The Exterminating Angel” can be seen in the 21st century as an orgy of the 1 percent. And the sensation of frozenness, of being enmeshed in a crisis from which it’s impossible to withdraw, may well be familiar to anyone who follows the news.

THE OPERA REMAINS CLOSE TO THE FILM After the premiere last year, Mr. Adès told The Times: “We stick fairly closely to the movie in terms of the order of incidents. We stick fairly closely to the final screenplay.”

BUT THERE ARE KEY DIFFERENCES The film’s cool, low-key surrealist dispassion (and absolute absence of music, even though several of the characters are musicians) has been traded out by Mr. Adès for more overt, expressionistic horror. “Even more than the film,” Mr. Ross wrote in The New Yorker, the opera “tilts toward the apocalyptic.”

As Mr. Adès put it: “I amplified some things that in a way are suppressed in the final film,” adding, of Buñuel, that “the acting, with certain exceptions, is quite restrained. With an opera, one’s doing in a way the opposite and bringing out the latent psychological and emotional meaning. The music underlines the power of the feeling.”

So the effect of the opera is grimmer, blunter and less winking. And it takes longer to sing than to talk: A 90-minute film has been expanded to a two-and-a-half-hour opera, even as the number of dinner guests has been reduced to 12, from 17. (They include a prima donna, a pianist, a doctor and a duchess.) This is still an unusually large cast for contemporary opera; the financial exigencies of the art form have generally encouraged smaller forces, but Mr. Adès clearly had different ideas.

WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE Dense. If there is one trait that defines Mr. Adès’s compositional gifts, it’s the ability to energize thickness, to create works that are like Mack trucks with Ferrari agility. Even when his textures are as clotted as mud pits, they’re roiling, volcanic, forward-moving.
Thomas Adès - Polaris (2010) Video by Victor Alexander

“The music pulses with searing power, frenetic breathlessness and an astringent harmonic language spiked with thick, piercing chords,” Mr. Tommasini wrote, “though pensive, dreamy episodes provide welcome relief.”


The woozy-sounding ondes Martenot, an early electronic instrument, adds another touch of instability, seeming to symbolize the force holding the guests prisoner. If you saw “The Tempest” at the Met, you’ll remember the indelible sound of the soprano Audrey Luna soaring well beyond the stratosphere as Ariel. She reprises those coloratura feats in “The Exterminating Angel” as Leticia, an opera diva, in a part that reaches up to an A above high C.

And the piece is well aware of its place in the tradition. “Early in the guests’ captivity, when their inability to leave seems more absurd than abject, waltz rhythms proliferate,” Mr. Ross wrote, “variously recalling classic Johann Strauss, the boozy dances of ‘Der Rosenkavalier,’ and the deconstructed waltzes of Ravel and Stravinsky.”

A set of variations on a song from the Ladino tradition of Sephardic Jews spins, Mr. Tommasini wrote, “modal melodies into fleecy lines.” And late in the opera, an aria for Leticia is, Mr. Ross said, a “harshly radiant” setting of another Sephardic text, before “colossal, demonic” fragments from the Requiem mass close the work in a mood of “mystical dread.”



HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO HIS PREVIOUS OPERAS? Earlier this year, when the work was presented at the Royal Opera in London, Erica Jean wrote in The Guardian that this “is a far less brittle score than his 1995 chamber opera ‘Powder Her Face,’ lusher than 2004’s ‘The Tempest,’ and Adès is more willing to linger in music of unabashed beauty.”

SOME QUIBBLES More than other opera composers, Mr. Tommasini wrote in the Times, Mr. Adès “sacrifices verbal clarity for the sake of musical expression, something that usually annoys me.” But, he added, the music is so confident that he was surprisingly little bothered by the obscurity.

Rupert Christiansen, the critic for The Daily Telegraph in London, found the first act to be bombastic overkill but wrote that “as so often with Adès’s music, it matures as it simmers down and stops showing off: saturated in melancholy, much of the more reflective second half is truly magical and even insidiously moving.”


And while Manuel Brug, writing in Die Welt, was also impressed by the virtuosic score, he found little “operatic surplus value” in the adaptation, finding it significant that Buñuel chose to have no music at all in his film.

HOW DOES IT LOOK? Tom Cairns, who wrote the libretto with Mr. Adès, also directs. The challenge in staging “The Exterminating Angel” may be primarily crowd control and keeping everyone straight, since almost all of the characters are onstage the whole time.

Hildegard Bechtler’s set is dominated by a huge wooden door frame, evoking both a proscenium and the threshold the guests are unable to cross. A projection screen allows for suggestions of the scope the opera is seeking: beyond the domestic to the societal and existential.

WHO’S SINGING? In this sprawling cast, there are some artists who will be familiar to the Met audience, as well as some newcomers. Ms. Luna, of course, made an impression in “The Tempest”; the mezzo-soprano Alice Coote has been heard here in both Baroque and new music, starring in Mr. Muhly’s “Two Boys” a few years ago.

The countertenor Iestyn Davies has made his career as a Handelian, but in “The Exterminating Angel” he plays an arrogant, idle aristocrat. Joseph Kaiser is known as a stalwart tenor, Rod Gilfry as a seductive baritone and John Tomlinson as a commanding bass, while Sally Matthews, Sophie Bevan and Frédéric Antoun make their Met debuts.

SHEEP MIGHT BE A THING NOW IN OPERA Last year, a flock of 100 live sheep was an eerie yet endearing presence in Heiner Goebbels’s dreamlike staging of Louis Andriessen’s “De Materie” at the Park Avenue Armory. In “The Exterminating Angel,” the animals are fewer, but the spectacle considerably more intense.

Ms. Jeal described it in The Guardian: “We take our seats surrounded by the sound of bells as three live sheep are paraded onstage; later, following an ovine version of Chekhov’s gun, these become lamb shawarmas as the orchestra plays a nightmarish version of J.S. Bach’s ‘Sheep May Safely Graze.’”

As the characters wish one another: “Bon appétit!”




https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/arts ... front&_r=0

John F
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Re: Guide For Exterminating Angel

Post by John F » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:17 am

That's a worthwhile piece - thanks for posting it. This is one of the very few Met productions this season that I'm looking forward to.
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: Guide For Exterminating Angel

Post by lennygoran » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:38 am

John F wrote:
Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:17 am
That's a worthwhile piece - thanks for posting it. This is one of the very few Met productions this season that I'm looking forward to.
We see it Nov 21-I hope after you see it you'll be available clue me in-I have a feeling it's gonna be rough on me and maybe even rougher for Sue. We decided to see it Nov 18 too HD style-maybe the extra viewing will help educate us. Regards, Len :lol:

Beckmesser
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Re: Guide For Exterminating Angel

Post by Beckmesser » Sun Oct 22, 2017 6:53 am

“sumptuously savage”

“dissonant restlessness”

“pervasive anxiety”

“textures are as clotted as mud pits”

“an astringent harmonic language spiked with thick, piercing chords”

Sounds like the sort of music that would have me rushing for the exit. I think I will pass on it.

lennygoran
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Re: Guide For Exterminating Angel

Post by lennygoran » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:34 am

Can't say I blame you-still it's something new and different and at least it won`t be eurotrash-its ades own work and not some crazy update and he has approved of the production-he is conducting it--still I worry-gotta admit I didn`t think too highly of his Tempest. Len

John F
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Re: Guide For Exterminating Angel

Post by John F » Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:32 pm

This week's NYC-Arts includes an in-depth segment about "Exterminating Angel" and the rehearsals at the Met. Quite a lot of it is devoted to the ondes martenot, that primitive electronic instrument beloved of Olivier Messiaen, which Thomas Adès uses for surrealistic effects, but there's enough time to go into the plot and give a sample of the music.

http://watch.thirteen.org/video/3005874372/

The presence of those sheep, real ones, is not explained. :roll:
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: Guide For Exterminating Angel

Post by lennygoran » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:05 am

John F wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:32 pm
This week's NYC-Arts includes an in-depth segment about "Exterminating Angel" and the rehearsals at the Met. Quite a lot of it is devoted to the ondes martenot, that primitive electronic instrument beloved of Olivier Messiaen, which Thomas Adès uses for surrealistic effects, but there's enough time to go into the plot and give a sample of the music.

http://watch.thirteen.org/video/3005874372/

The presence of those sheep, real ones, is not explained. :roll:
Thanks, I DVR the show every week-I was away but will take a look at the whole show sometime soon-meantime good to have your link! Regards, Len

lennygoran
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Re: Guide For Exterminating Angel

Post by lennygoran » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:31 am

John F wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:32 pm

The presence of those sheep, real ones, is not explained. :roll:
I guess it's trying to follow the movie to some extent where "the guests eventually manage to break open a wall enough to access a water pipe. In the end, several sheep and a bear break loose from their bonds and find their way to the room; the guests take in the sheep and proceed to slaughter and roast them on fires made from floorboards and broken furniture."

Regards, Len

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